by Pamela Williams
Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate the Risen Christ. If I did not believe He walked beside me, I don’t think I could even walk. He beat death, but he did endure the torture and pain beforehand. That is the part that scares me…the pain before death. I know I will wake up in a Spiritual World after death, but what kind of pain will I go thorugh before dying?
Jesus Christ was a Man of Peace, but he was also a warrior – the Lamb of Judah. He is with us as we fight the war against Evil, and he is proud that we do so. But ”as disciples of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we know that war is completely antithetical to his teachings.” The Christian Century magazine, quoting from the Sermon on the Mount, has criticized military action by warning that ”he who hates his neighbor is in danger of hellfire.”
Religious liberals are making the same mistake that often bedevils religious conservatives: They’re grossly oversimplifying the Bible. It’s true that Jesus put the love of neighbor at the center of Christian ethics. Forgiveness, not vengeance, animates the heart of God, offered freely to any person willing to renounce sin. But the Christian Gospel is not only about ”the law of love,” as war opponents like to put it. It’s also about the fact that people violate that law.
That’s why Jesus talked a great deal about punishment, and the moral obligation to oppose evil with a strong and swift hand. Human evil must be confronted, he said, not merely contained. Depending on the threat, a kind of ”pre-emptive strike” or judgment against evil might even be required: ”Be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Allow the darkness to roam unchecked, Jesus said, and it will devour individuals and entire regimes. That helps explain why in the New Testament we see the Son of God rebuking hateful mobs, casting demons into the abyss, chasing religious charlatans out of a temple with a whip. ”Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth,” he said. ”I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
Ministers have always invoked the example of Jesus to judge the morality of United States military action, but not always with their eyes open. The Rev. Ernest Fremont Tittle, a Methodist leader during World War II, insisted on American isolation even after Hitler’s war machine had ravaged most of Europe and threatened Britain. Jesus ”does not try to overcome evil with more evil,” Mr. Tittle argued. ”I can see only ruin ahead if the United States becomes a belligerent in Europe or in Asia — ruin for us and for all mankind.”
Like Mr. Tittle, many of today’s war critics hail Jesus as ”the Prince of Peace,” while forgetting that the Bible also calls him ”the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” the one ”who judges and wages war.” In itself, that’s not an argument for a pre-emptive strike. But it’s a good reason for a little more humility among the apostles of diplomacy.
God bless you all, may we all thank our Father for giving us Jesus Christ to walk beside us during these troubled times. Amen
by Pamela Williams